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N. Korea reopens link with South

March 22, 2009|Reuters

SEOUL — North Korea reopened a military hotline with the South Saturday, a day after Washington and Seoul ended annual defense drills that Pyongyang had called preparations for an invasion.

North Korea cut the hotline, the only telephone link between the two Koreas, at the start of the drills March 9. The move signals the North may be ready to tone down its harsh rhetoric ahead of a widely condemned missile launch expected early next month.

"The military communication line reopened this morning followed by a test run and everything is working fine," said a spokesman for Seoul's Unification Ministry.

The North said Friday that it would restore the hotline today "based on the position and intent of militarily guaranteeing the historic joint North-South declaration."

The declaration refers to a June 2000 statement signed by the South's then-President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to improve ties and begin commercial exchanges after decades of animosity.

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